Rescuers race to find Turkey quake survivors, 37 dead

Rescuers raced against the clock to save people trapped under rubble in Turkey and Greece on Saturday as anguished mourners buried the first victims of a powerful earthquake that claimed 37 lives.

The 7.0-magnitude quake killed 35 people and injured nearly 900 in Turkey after striking on Friday afternoon near the west coast town of Seferihisar in Izmir province.

Also killing two teenagers on their way home from school in Greece, it caused a mini-tsunami on the Aegean island of Samos and a sea surge that turned streets into rushing rivers in one Turkish coastal town.

Turkish authorities registered nearly 600 aftershocks, dozens of them stronger than 4.0 magnitude, complicating the search for those believed to still be breathing under mountains of concrete debris.

In Bayrakli, near the Turkish coastal resort city of Izmir that was heaviest hit, families and friends looked on in agony, exhaustion and hope as workers painstakingly lifted slabs of flattened apartment blocks.

Jubilation, relief and tears of joy greeted every recovered survivor. Cries of pain accompanied black bags holding bodies removed from the disaster zone.

“Let me see who it is!” one man shouted.

In small green spaces close to the damaged buildings, tents went up for frightened families to spend the night.

“It was so cold last night,” said Nilgun Yikariz, 59, who was sleeping on the grass in a small tent outside her destroyed apartment.

Nearby, Azize Akkoyun recognised parts of her family’s apartment in the ruins as she waited for news about her missing loved ones.

“Those curtains, they belonged to my daughter’s in-laws,” Akkoyun told AFP. “God willing they will come out alive.” (AFP | Raziye Akkoc)